By Catherine DeMuro
This summer, Rowan University journalism students covered four days of protests, press conferences, speeches and media madness at the 2016 Democratic National Convention (DNC) in Philadelphia.
For Matt Kass, a journalism major and political science minor, it was the opportunity of a lifetime.
“For almost my entire life I’ve been interested in politics,” said Kass. “Being involved in any way, shape or form with either major party convention was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up.”
The event was the culmination of a three-week summer course taught by Rowan journalism professors Kathryn Quigley and Mark Berkey-Gerard, who both covered presidential conventions in the past.
In the weeks leading up to the event, students studied past conventions and honed their reporting, writing and multimedia skills.
From July 25-28, the students worked 12 hour days covering the DNC at the Pennsylvania Convention Center and at the Wells Fargo Center. Student reported via social media, shot photo and video footage, filed stories for their website RowanU DNC News, and learned by working side-by-side with professional reporters in the media tent.
“Part of the experience of covering a convention is seeing how reporters do their work,” said Berkey-Gerard. “It gives students a new perspective on what they study in class.”
A half-a-dozen student stories were also published in The Courier Post, a Gannett newspaper in southern New Jersey and part of the USA Today network, which gave the reporting wider exposure.
For Cierra Lewis, 21-year-old journalism major, the highlight was her 15 minutes of fame — or in today’s terms — her 50,000 views on Snapchat.
“It was pretty awesome having my video make it to the DNC Snapchat story,” said Lewis. “Over 50,000 people viewed my snap of protesters as they occupied the media tent after Bernie [Sanders] conceded.”
Lewis also covered several street protests and an impromptu press conference conducted by Danny Glover, Rosario Dawson, Shailene Woodley and Susan Sarandon.
“It was so exciting, and I became more confident in my writing abilities,” said Lewis. “It helped me face my rejection fear because people would turn me down when I asked for an interview, but it just made me better.”